Building the resource library

I finally pulled my spring/summer shoes out of deep storage this weekend as I went out for teaching gigs.

I finally pulled my spring/summer shoes out of deep storage this weekend as I went out for teaching gigs.

Well, after a very long, cold, winter, it seems that spring might actually come. With highs of +16C, and clear blue skies, it was a perfect weekend.  What made it even better for me was that I got to teach new rigid heddle weavers on Saturday and Sunday!  

I teach a beginner rigid heddle weaving class every couple of months at my local yarn store in Bracebridge, Muskoka Yarn Connection.  The class is about 2hrs and we get through as much as we can, going over the parts of the loom, warping up a loom (sometimes the store loom, sometimes my loom, and sometimes a students loom) and then the very basics of weaving.  Somehow, that two hours is never enough.  There is always one more skill, one more tip, trick or technique that feels so essential in that moment I realize I don't have the time to cover it.

So in the interest of helping my students, and other new rigid heddle weavers out there, I've been trying to build a Resources section on my website with my favorite blog posts, videos and links that show valid techniques in a clear way.  

I know that some instructors are wary of suggesting students go to YouTube, and I completely agree with this.  You don't know the quality of the instruction and if the technique the person on the internet is using is valid. However, with a sense of what you are trying to learn, you can find some great videos out there that will help you along the way.  Generally if the video is by a known brand, Schacht, Ashford, WEBS, KnitPicks, Lion Brand Yarn or a great content providers like Interweave Crafts, KnittingHelp and Craftsy .  There are great independent teachers out there putting out videos, however there is a whole bunch of crap, bad quality, bad instruction and bad technique.  So if you do decide to dive into youtube, please use a critical eye and if something seems off or wrong, it very well could be so check a few other videos before you go all in on something crazy.

 Because of where I live, in Near North Ontario (my mom is from Kapuskasing, so I really can't pretend we are in Northern Ontario, even though the people in the GTA think that we live in the barren north), there aren't the density of LYSs or workshops that you find in other areas, so when I went to learn a whole bunch of things, I turned to books, videos and the internet.  I'm mostly self-taught from these resources.  Learning in person can be amazing, and I've loved all the in-person workshops I've been able to attend as part of our local spinning & weaving guilds, but those are few and far between, and I wanted to learn so much more than these groups had the ability, or budget, to provide. So it is possible to learn techniques this way, however, without feedback you might be using the wrong spinning wheel and when a real spinning instructor sees you, their first words to you are "that wheel is too small for you".  But on the balance, the internet has been very good to me.

So, go check out the Resources Page, I've started linking up my favorite resources, with Rigid Heddle Weaving 101 and Sock Knitting to start, but I will be adding to those as I remember all the videos and resources that have made my learning easier.

So, what are your favorite resources?  Let me know your fave resources in the comments so I can add them to the list.

Pick Up to Warp Drive

I love my little Cricket loom.  It is a powerful little bugger, and didn't cost me a fortune (which is always appreciated), and I can make excellent, although narrow, cloth on it. A person could spend a life time simply playing with color and plain weave on the loom, stripes and plaids and even houndstooth ... but that world seems so limiting once you have taken a look at the awesomeness that is "The Weaver's Idea Book" by Jane Patrick.

The Weaver's Idea Book

This books shows you that a rigid heddle loom can be even more magical than you would think.  While the two heddle projects are not possible for me (the Cricket is too small to accommodate a second heddle, but the Flip loom as designed for one)  there are hundreds of pages of ideas for finger controlled weaves and pick up stick patterns.

Yesterday, after many months of hemming and hawing I finally got the pick up sticks I had ordered from Paradise Fibers (who shipped to Canada at a reasonable cost and didn't get hit with duty, which is a plus!).  I know you can make pickup sticks from paint sticks and pieces of wood, but I wanted something that was prepped for the job.  Also, I only wanted to buy them once, as in I didn't want to find myself after spending time, energy and money making something spending that amount of money to buy them.

So tonight, I warp my loom with some of the sock yarn I have lying around and do a pickup stick sampler.  My plan is to warp the loom with my 10 dent reed, warping the full width and doing 48 ends of white and 48 ends of green (and working each pattern using first the white weft and then the green weft) so that I can see how the colors and textures work together.

I'm excited to get more out of my RH loom, as I'm going to get my chance to work with a table loom in the next few months.  My local guild, the Trillium Handweavers and Spinners based in Hunstville, Ontario, are hosting a workshop with Jette Vandermeiden and I'm signed up.  I will get to borrow a table loom for the workshop and I've been watching the Craftsy class "Floor Loom Weaving" with Janet Dawson to help get me oriented to these fancy beasts.

I know that I want a floor loom, someday, but for now knowing that I can do more complex fabrics with my Cricket and a couple of sticks is pretty impressive.